Jan
03
2008
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Gheorghe Hagi

Gheorghe “Gica” Hagi recently stood down as coach of Romania’s most-titled club Steaua Bucharest and put some stern criticism in the direction of club owner Gheorghe “Gigi” Becali: “He took everything from me: my honour, my ambition, my personality. It was as if I’d been tortured.” Hagi’s record during his three-month spell at the helm at Steaua, a club that the 42-year-old who won 125 caps for his country had also served as a player, included only one league defeat and successful qualification for the group phase of the UEFA Champions League. But senior players complained about Hagi’s training methods and uninspiring style of play. After the team had slipped to the middle of the table, scoring only five times in seven matches – Steaua’s worst goal return in 60 years, Becali, Steaua’s billionaire chief, took action and started to dictate Hagi’s tactics and team selections. In fact, what he ultimately wanted was to see the back of Hagi: “I did everything I could to get Hagi to leave of his own accord,” he confessed. “I’m glad that he has resigned, I would not have wanted to fire him. I’m afraid I have to say that he is not a good coach.” Nevertheless, the pair do have a few things in common. In addition to sharing the same Aromani ethnic background, Hagi is godfather to Becali’s daughters. Moreover, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Hagi lent a penniless Becali USD 150,000 to help him get back on his feet. Nevertheless, despite all that, the old friendship now appears to be in tatters.